03/23/2006

Toronto, Ontario, March 23, 2006. 2006 Provincial Budget funds transportation, but no real plan for Ontario municipalities.
AMO President Roger Anderson is cautioning members that the 2006 Provincial Budget contains one-time funding that will benefit municipalities, but fails to address the urgent need to restore fiscally sustainability for municipal governments in Ontario.

“Funding for municipal roads, bridges and public transit is welcome news,” said AMO President Roger Anderson.  “However, the root cause of our deteriorating infrastructure is the growing $3.2 billion Provincial-Municipal fiscal imbalance that sees municipal property tax dollars flowing to the Provincial treasury”.  

The Budget confirms previously announced improvements in cost-sharing related to public health and ambulance services but contains no new uploading of Provincial health and social services costs.    

”One-time funding announcements help with the symptoms of downloading – but they do not protect the municipal property taxpayer from the ongoing burden of downloaded Provincial costs”, said Anderson. 

The previous government downloaded billions in Provincial health and social service costs onto the municipal property tax base.  Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America that funds these programs through municipal property taxes.  The policy was fundamentally wrong when it was introduced and it must be corrected.  Building strong communities was a key plank in this government’s ‘Choose Change’ election platform and Ontario cannot achieve strong communities without fundamental reforms to how municipal property taxes are allocated.  

Ontario’s municipalities have waited patiently while the Province got its fiscal house in order and the Premier has said he’s now ready to work with us to restore sustainable municipal finance to Ontario.  This Budget does not embrace that commitment.

AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s 445 municipal governments.  AMO supports and enhances strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada’s political system.

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